The 3-Word Phrase Every Mom Should Use With Her Son

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There was a Tweet I recently came across that’s since been turned into a meme and shared on repeat a thousand times over: “My wife makes us put $5 in the ‘find jar’ every time we make her find something we can’t locate in the house. After 13 months of saving, today we are buying a Ford Explorer.”

LOL. But also, it’s got me thinking—especially since I’m the one in my household with the uncanny ability to recite the location of every missing object as though I have a photographic memory. (I don’t.) Where did this superhuman ability come from? Could it be that it’s just another reflection of society forever teaching women to carry the mental load?

According to Dr. Robyn Miller, who is well-versed in how to teach our sons (and daughters) about divvying up household responsibilities, yes. I checked in with her to share a tactic I’m now employing at home to change this “mom keeps track of everything” attitude. Miller maintains it can come in the form of a three-word phrase: “Let’s remember together.”

Let’s say my five-year-old has misplaced his winter hat or a favorite toy. By saying the words, let’s remember together, I’m inviting him to do the mental work and retrace his steps while simultaneously encouraging him to a) be more thoughtful about how he treats his stuff and b) not always rely on others (hello, me!) to carry the mental load. In other words, it’s his responsibility to know where his things are.

Dr. Miller also has some advice for taking the learning a step further. “You can actually encourage more sharing of the mental load by being quite deliberate and having a place for everything in your house,” she says. “Still, the key is to decide those locations together as a family—otherwise you’re just taking on more of the mental load.” (From there, it’s about teaching your kids to actually put things back where they go.)

As for me, I’m trying to re-train myself to not just step in and problem solve when items go missing. The more I enlist my son’s help, the more he can contribute to owning knowledge about our household. And that’s empowering for everybody.

We Need to Teach Our Sons to Share the Mental Load (No, Chores Aren’t Enough)

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Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...